Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 23 years in landmark #MeToo case

Sentence comes after the former Hollywood producer was convicted of sexual assault and third-degree rape.

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape and sexual assault in a landmark #MeToo case.

A jury on February 24 found Weinstein, 67, guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein had faced the possibility of a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance told reporters after the sentencing that the judge “sent a message today that this type behaviour is something that any potential offender is going to have to consider. The judge took it seriously, which is exactly how we think he should have. And we’re grateful.”

Weinstein and the six women who testified against the movie mogul were in court for the proceedings.

In an emotional statement in court, Haleyi spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack, saying, “It scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever.”

Haleyi further said Weinstein has seemed “completely disconnected from the gravity of the crime he has committed against me.”

Mann also addressed the court: “I want to remind you I told Harvey, ‘no’ … I am forced to carry that experience until I die”.

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Joan Illuzzi asked Judge James Burke to impose 25 years or “near” 25 years in prison for his conviction on a charge of criminal sexual act in the first degree involving Haleyi and to impose a consecutive sentence for the third-degree rape conviction involving Mann.

That charge called for up to four years in prison, but the prosecution made no specific request. 

Weinstein’s lawyers on Monday urged Burke to impose the minimum possible sentence of five years, asking him to consider Weinstein’s charitable activities while saying a longer sentence would likely mean Weinstein would die in prison.

Prosecutors in court filings last week said the sentence should reflect not only the crimes of which Weinstein was convicted, but a “lifetime of abuse towards others”. A second criminal case is pending in California.

Legacy of misconduct

More than 100 women, including famous actresses, have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct stretching back for decades, fuelling the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment. Weinstein has denied the allegations, and said that any sex was consensual.

“Harvey Weinstein’s legacy will always be that he’s a convicted rapist”, the Silence Breakers, a group of 24 women who accused Weinstein of sexual assault, said in a statement following the sentencing. 

“He is going to jail – but no amount of jail time will repair the lives he ruined, the careers he destroyed, or the damage he has caused.”

The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on the most serious charges, a single count of first-degree rape as well as two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence.

Those charges relied on testimony by actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in the early 1990s.  

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies